Yakutia Airlines renews their direct flights from Anchorage to Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula this summer, with expanded service to the mainland that opens up even more opportunities for Alaskans to explore the many wonders of Russia’s Far East. Beginning in late June and continuing to the end of September, their smart new Boeing 737-700 fleet will now connect Alaska to Kamchatka, the Khabarovsk region and the province of Yakutia in north eastern Siberia. The unique attractions of this last unspoiled area of the world, which once took days of travel to reach from Alaska, are now mere hours away.
|A version of this article appeared
in The Anchorage Daily News on June 14, 2013.
First stop on the new Alaska-Russia route is the city of Petropavlovsk, gateway to the spectacular Kamchatka Peninsula, Alaska’s sister province across the Aleutians. With phenomenal flyfishing, 29 active volcanoes, hundreds of hot springs and five UNESCO World Heritage nature preserves, Kamchatka has much to offer travelers seeking adventure in one of the last great places not yet overrun with mass tourism. And with Yakutia’s convenient schedule, you can leave Anchorage shortly after breakfast and be on a stream casting to giant Russian rainbows or trekking up a live volcano well before noon. (If fishing or volcanoes are not your forte, you can go whitewater river rafting, sea kayaking, mountain biking, hang gliding, wildlife viewing, horseback riding and even diving in the peninsula’s clear marine waters, along with sightseeing and cultural tours. And no matter what you decide to do while in Kamchatka, don’t leave without visiting at least one of its many famous hot springs (almost 200 in all) scattered up and down the peninsula, where you can soak your bones after a long day’s adventuring.)
Kamchatka famous hot springs. Photo by Rene Limeres, Ultimate Rivers.
After a short layover in Petropavlovsk, Yakutia’s flight continues on to the mainland coast and city of Khabarovsk (population 600,000) located along the lower Amur River, 19 miles from the Chinese border. Known for its great museums, shops and the Trans-Siberian Railway, which has a major stop there in its terminus along the coast, Khabarovsk is also a major hub for the immense Primorye and Khabarovsk regions, land of legendary Dersu the Hunter, the magnificent Siberian tiger and exotic taimen, the largest trout in the world, which reaches weights of 100 lbs. or more in the deep swift rivers that tumble off the coastal mountains there. (Taimen are found all across Asia, but these Far East fish reach gigantic proportions feeding on the Amur’s abundant fall chum salmon runs.) Visitors can go on safari for these mythical river beasts, visit world renowned nature preserves, tour the many cultural attractions and even board the iconic Trans-Siberian railroad for a ride to famous Lake Baikal to the west.
Khabarovsk is known for its great museums, shops and the Trans-Siberian Railway. Photo: JATM
World’s largest trout, the Siberian taimen. These ancient fish achieve the largest size and age of any salmonid, with lengths reputed over seven feet and weights up to 200 lbs. or more! This particular fish is estimated to be well over 50 year old. It was released after this photo was taken. Photo: Rene Limeres, Ultimate Rivers.
For Alaskans wanting to visit even more remote and unexplored territory, Yakutia has conveniently scheduled connecting flights from Petropavlovsk to Magadan and Yakutsk, capital of the Sakha Republic and sister city of Fairbanks. Situated on the vast Lena River, the northeast Siberian outpost of Yakutsk (population 200,000) is famous for its extreme weather (the winter cold here can make Alaska seem temperate), abundant diamonds, unique scientific research facilities (the world’s largest cosmic ray collectors and underground permafrost laboratory) and some of the most remote and uninhabited wilderness on the planet. Visitors can expect royal treatment from the friendly inhabitants of this isolated province, with a wide range of activities to choose from. Explore the Lena River, largest in Russia (with drainage of almost a million square miles), tour a diamond mine, visit a mammoth museum, or take part in a seasonal festival to experience the interesting dance, dress, foods and other customs of the Yakut people.
Yakut women perform national dance in traditional Yakut clothing. Photo: Yakutia Airlines
Yakutia Airlines weekly Boeing 737-700 non-stop service from Anchorage to Kamchatka, Russia begins on June 27, 2013 and continues to September 26, 2013. Several business and economy fares starting at $1048 RT are available. For more information on their flights and the locations they service, including recommended wildlife, cultural, fishing and scientific tours, check out www.AirRussia.US.